Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Synergy's Weekly Scoop

Kettlebell Guru and Director of IKFF Arrives in South Africa

The world renowned strength and conditioning coach, martial artist, world class athlete and kettlebell guru arrives on South African shores - TODAY!  Steve Cotter is one of thee most talented trainers of our century and we as South Africans are honoured to have him share his expertise with us. 
Steve began his physical training at the ripe young age of 12 with the Hsing-I ch’uan Chinese martial arts system and went on to conquer the world!! Today Steve shares his craft and finesse with the fitness industry and educates trainers worldwide on the techniques and systems of correct performance, all the while blowing us away with his precision, athleticism and raw strength.

Up and Coming CKT and Master Classes

An opportunity not to be missed by aspiring trainers and kettlebell lifters.  Steve Cotter will be hosting master classes throughout the country:

1st September:     Take Down Gym - Cape Town
2nd September:    Kettlebells SA - Johannesburg (Fighters only)
3rd September:     Kettlebells SA - Johannesburg
8th September:     Flux - Umhlanga
9th September:     Flux - Umhlanga
10th September:   Kettlebells SA - Johannesburg

For the fitness junkies out there who wish to join the exciting world of kettlebell lifting, it's imperative that you find yourself a qualified coach, to ensure that you get the best results, perform with perfection, avoid painful physical injuries and enjoy this world class sport to the max. Go to for more information.

Trainers, it's time for us to stand together, improve our knowledge, expand our horizons and reach for the stars.  CKT kicks off this weekend 3rd September at Kettlebells SA in Johannesburg.  I look forward to getting faster, better and stronger with you all.  For more info on this weekends kettlebell certification go to

To book your places in the upcoming events, please contact or 

Commit to be Fit - Summer is around the corner

It's that time of year again where the sun beats down on the beach, the ice cream vendor get his Christmas bonus and the sales of pina coladas sky rocket.  Its never too late to get that body in shape. 

Put down the cereal box promising you to drop 2 sizes, turn off the TV and step away from the computer and pull yourself together. Pick up a kettlebell and start putting in the hard work, your body will reap the summer benefits of old school training. There are no excuses to not being in perfect shape, having a healthy heart and owning the strength of a brown bear. Commit yourself to fitness, health and longevity.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Powered by potatoes

I ran into an ex today from 10 years ago, and we all know that this is never an enjoyable experience.  Especially when you have just shovelled a hot potato pie and the scene of the crime is still evident all over your black sweater.  Might I add that it wasn't just the remains of one pie, but four.  I literally looked like I had been excavating in a pastry mine.

Yes, I did consume 4 pies, in one sitting.

My colleagues and I have been preparing for our CKT with the grand master of kettlebells, Steve Cotter which entails an average of 6 hours a day of high intensity kettlebell training, coupled with a series of fitness tests.  I know, a weekend in heaven, right?

Which explains the pie eating.  We are currently 5 days from the big event, and its time to super load our muscles.  When training or competing in an endurance event for longer than 90 minutes, your normal 'energy' stores will not sustain you and you will land up running out of gas.  You want to maximise your storage of glycogen in your muscles through carbo-loading.

It is advisable that 3 days before the event, you start to tapper your exercise and increase your carbohydrate intake to about 9-10g of carbs per kilogram of body weight and replace fats with carbs.

Carbs yield energy at a much faster rate than fat, and it is essential to ensure you maintain your energy levels and strength throughout an event of an extended period.  Carbs are thee best performance enhancing substance and best of all its completely legal.

However in my case, I have more than just the concern of sustaining my energy levels throughout the weekend.  I have a metabolism that would eat Ussain Bolts 100m record for breakfast.  Do I need to mention those 4 pies again?  I have been informed that the intensity of training we will be undergoing, will consume anything between 4000 and 7000 calories a day.  I shall be returning to Umhlanga on Monday morning in a hose pipe. I am aiming to consume at least 48 pies before my departure on Friday.

I need to up the anti.

When carbo loading it is important to remember that your meals should also include protein, as when competing not only are you flying through your glycogen stores like Sebastian Vettel on a Sunday afternoon but you are also using up excessive amounts of amino acids.

Include foods such as sweet potato, wholegrain pasta, rice, cereals, raisins, bananas, figs. Especially foods that have a high GI as they release energy at a faster rate.  Avoid fatty foods such as butters, fried foods, cheeses and desserts as you want to gain water weight and not body fat.

I also suggest you include carb concentrates like honey, jams, syrups and energy drinks to boost your intake and avoid caffeine and alcohol at all costs, as besides the fact that it wouldn't be the most ideal set up being hungover during an endurance event but these fluids dehydrate you immensely.  Try and avoid fructose (simple carbs found in fruit) as they can give you gastrointestinal trouble and we wouldn't want that.

Prepare your body for the stress it is going to undertake, look after your body - it is the only place you will ever live.

Most importantly best of luck to the Flux team for this weekend, I look forward to getting stronger, wiser and even more passionate about kettlebells with you all.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Two tickets to the gun show

I'm currently packing Swiss mini's with 2mm pinfire cartridges and unfortunately sales for tickets to my gun show are not going well. Partly because I never used to hog a workout bench, and spend 40 minutes admiring my reflection, whilst flexing my biceps and playing with a dumbbell. I really should have committed myself to that challenge. After all, that's how the Roman gladiators did it.  If it wasn't for all those bicep curls they could never have fought off the Greek armies the way they did.

If only this was true.

If you really want to look big in a tank top t-shirt, drop the dumbbell, its isolating your muscles and head to the pull-up bar. Its the best bicep exercise known to man and builds 'wings' that really make you fly - believe me, if more people new the truth Red Bull would be out of business.

Pull-ups are authentic as opposed to weight lifting. When executing a correct pull-up your skeletal-muscular structure aligns naturally and forces natural power output.  After all, not long ago we were all hanging from trees and used this form of strength development to literally survive.  Pull-ups work your 'wings', rhomboids, traps, biceps, forearms and hands in one swift movement.

The armies of the middle ages had unbelievable strength centuries before the invention of the barbell or dumbbell. Lifters have replaced the phenomenal pull-up with exercises such as the bent over row to stimulate the same muscle groups, but humans have not evolved to execute this movement. The 'lats' are the largest muscle in the human torso - develop them, reap the benefits and discover your potential.

Pull-ups are awesome, they build incredible strength and look cool when you doing them, far cooler than anyone could look in a gym vest doing a bicep curl.  Once you smashing out rep after rep you will discover true feats of strength - its the oldest muscle building exercise in existence.

Whilst the humbling pull-up adds stamina and strength, as well as giving your hips and abs a great isometric workout, this exercise will too become easy.  So as anyone in the fitness and strength game know, you need to up the game.  Challenge yourself to closed pull-ups, move onto uneven pull-ups and work your way to defeating the one arm pull-up.

Moving your total body weight in one swift movement and with one arm, takes years of dedication and enormous proportional strength but teaches you physical control, gives you extraordinary co-ordination and builds unbelievable agility.

You want to sell tickets to your gun show?  Spread your wings and fly

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Drop and give me 20

When I hear those words "drop and give me 20" I literally want to fake an injury.  Push ups absolutely mortify me, honestly.  However as much as I experience that erratic scalding in my chest and deltoids, I couldn't promote a more functional movement.  I force myself on a daily basis through set after set, I struggle. I do not have the most incredible upper body strength but I persevere.

Why you may ask would I subject myself to something so backbreaking?  Because it is thee most paramount of all upper body exercises. It trains the upper body to work in synergy with the lower body, it breeds strength, evolves muscle, amplifies tendon strength and basically constructs a bulletproof ninja shell around your entire body.

Strength 'connoisseurs' consider the push up as a beginner exercise and promote the bench press instead.  So lets all stand around the bench and watch this 'oke' isolate his upper body in an artificial way, destroy his rotator cuffs and irritate his joints.  High Five!!

Push ups are one of the prime body weight exercises that when executed correctly develop raw strength and maximum power whilst protecting the joints and building functional potency. The military use push ups as a form of punishment, damn right, this is physical penance. Its retribution like this that drives people to the model machinery in the gym. Because its easy, the contraption is doing all the work for you.  How challenging.

Get off your bench and start building triceps of steel (all three heads), pecs of iron and abs of granite. Of course with strength training progression is the name of the game, so once you smashing out a hundred reps, whats next?  Adding more reps to your push ups will add stamina but little strength and muscle, so challenge yourself to closed push ups, unstable push ups and perhaps start working your way towards a one arm push up.

One arm push ups will definitely get people rubber necking, its a pure feat of real strength.Very few bodybuilders and athletes can master a one arm push up because again people like to stick to what they good at, specialize on a strong point as opposed to developing their entire bodies, its such an illusion.

Lets stop performing circus tricks on the pec dec and get on with it, do you really want to look like Tarzan and play like Jane?

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Fight For Fair Play

Recently every channel in the media was covering the controversial doping saga that some of the best schools in our country are struggling to deal with.  This infuriated me beyond measures.  I blame the media.  The media portrays these Goliath type figures on the cover of their 'health' and 'fitness' magazines through the promoting of supplements to achieve the physiques of Greek Gods.

I can guarantee you the models and bodybuilders on those covers do not look the way they do because they had a 'shake' for breakfast.  Steroids have been in our gyms and part of our society since the early 1930's when a German chemist started fiddling with hormones. Thank you very much!

Anabolic steroids, growth hormones, testosterone variants and various others were developed for weak minded people who cannot adjust to the heat of their game.  The most disappointing fact is how little one educates themselves on the effects of steroids prior to injecting it into their lives.

When next in the weight section of your local gym take a good look around.  You should notice lifters wrapping their knees, their wrists, their elbows and strapping their backs with belts.  Ensuring their joints are strapped with stabilizers. Their joints become inflamed, the scar tissue tears and builds up making their joints weaker and stiffer than ever. The change rooms reek of heat rubs and menthol and this is all applied to keep the pain at bay .

Joint pain is a steroid abusers best friend and by the time they reach their mid thirties, torment is a way of life. The damage has long been done, whether they stop training or not. Steroids cause muscles to develop at an astonishingly accelerated rate, faster than the joints can keep up.

The personality changes experienced by a user are the very least of their problems, in South Africa we are all pretty adjusted to a little aggression and violent behaviour by a random passer buyer.  The bigger problems lie in the fact that not only are steroids causing the muscles to grow but also the stomach wall and the internal organs to swell in size.  Nothing like a serving of heart failure with a side of septic shock to bring in the weekend.

These pretty boys with their juiced pecs can get away with 'pansie ass' exercises on their big machines and still get pumped up like balloons.  Not strong - just pumped up.

Do me a favour, give us a real challenge, your biceps don't scare me.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Eat, Pray, Squat

I've been meaning to write an article on the power of the squat for some time now, and as I was completely annihilated at the crack of dawn, with a session of 300 squats, amongst some other ruthless exercises by the infamous Sean Temple at Flux Motion,  I felt now was as good a time as any.  And anyways this mornings session has subjected me to disability for the remainder of the day.

There is no exercise as invaluable as the squat.  In its pure simplicity the squat wins hands down every time.  The exercise works practically every muscle in the lower body and executing a natural bodyweight squat  improves your mind body connections and mental focus.

Keep in mind that when you see those powerhouses 'klapping gym wif their channas' and the 'okes' are standing around the leg curl machine challenging each other to who can curl the most weight, you can turn and snigger to yourself, knowing that leg curl machines put the hamstrings in the worst possible bio mechanical position for strength, and don't add any muscle power.  Its why their suspension is dropped so low on their bakkies, they just don't have the power to extend their weight to the height of a standard vehicle.

Bodyweight squats require no external load and increase your functional strength, your power output and build maximum raw strength and best of all your body recovers quicker between sessions. Bodyweight squats are superior to squatting with a barbell, especially when you start smashing pistol squats out, natural squats blow barbell squats out the water.

When you place a barbell on your upper back it vertically loads the spine with compelling force.  It compresses the vertebrae, the discs in your spine and promotes an exaggerated forward lean which will add extended strain to your lower back muscles.

Instead of challenging yourself by loading 200kg onto your spinal column and making yourself look like a complete hero when your body is ailing inside, and you feel you would like to challenge yourself more, do closed squats instead and then eventually move up to mastering the pistol squat.

Perform a pistol squat one after the other at high repetition - now that's a feat of strength, I can promise you now those 'okes' with the juice filled quads will snap a tendon just attempting this challenging exercise.

So take your bar, do something useful with it and shut up and get squatting

Friday, 19 August 2011

Man vs Machine

I am originally from a small town in the North West where bakkies own the roads, klippies own the nights and boerewors grows like wild grass.  Where bigger, tougher and stronger is the name of the game.  If you aren't klapping the gym twice a day and spending your weekends comparing the size of the 'takkies' on your Hilux you just aren't going to make it out alive.

I love my town, it defined me and definitely contributed to where I am today.  It built my desire for wanting strength and ability, as I too want to 'picks up heavy fings' all though my approach is completely different.

I choose not to tackle the 'pec dec' or interrogate the leg press, I challenge my body.  I combine functional training with kettlebells to develop explosive power. Machines give you the 'all show and no go' where progressive calisthenics give you reaction power.  What most gym junkies don't realize is that machines are doing most of the work for them, not only is it easier to use a machine but they isolate your muscles.  So yes, they are building muscles but they are not building them to work together in synergy.  Therefor they are not building strength, they are building size.

Machines give you the BMW M3 but the Uno engine.  Muscle, no doubt, its visible - those gym vests aren't stretching around their torso's for nothing but stop and ask them to do a a set of 20 pistol squats or spider man push ups and I guarantee you they will struggle.

Bodyweight training, functional training develops aptitude to perfect physique, gain core stability, achieve raw strength and develops nervous power, where ones only resistance is gravity.  Where mastering the one arm push up, hand stand push up, or one arm pull up is a training regiment away.  Machines will never offer the capabilities of achieving maximum pure strength.  Twice a day on the bench press will not allow you the possibility to stand on your hands and press your body to the sky at 50 reps a set without breaking a sweat.

The army, the navy, marine core and air force use calisthenics as a physical conditioning tool to get their 'soldiers' in the best physical shape.  It promotes better health, fitness and improves performance which transpires into active everyday living.

So please, put away the R2000 sneakers, flush the roids, stop oiling the machine bolts, take off your shoes and challenge your body.

Challenge me, to challenge you - get better, get fitter, get faster, get stronger!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

I Said No Gloves

I'v been told I have the hands of a coal miner.  They are not my hands, they are my tools. To be honest this works in my favour. I spent the last 10 years in hotel management and culinary arts.  As a chef you are always on the look out for the most cutting edge technology to improve your technique.  Only now having left the kitchen and entered the gym - have I found the first class gizmo.

These hands are grating up blocks of cheese and dicing up onions like Gordon Ramsey on steroids.  Who needs fancy gadgets when you have kettlebell hands?

With these ravishing grasps comes the ominous question "Why don't you wear gloves?", "Have you tried wearing gloves?", "Why you being stupid, wear gloves?" I would love to just respond with "Because I'm hardcore like that"

Kettlebells have been around since the 17th century, you would think they would have thought of gloves by now.  The Russians are after all responsible for putting the first man in space.

Kettlebells are used to perform ballistic exercises, which means with constant movement the handle is shifting from your palms to your finger tips.  Unlike using a dumbbell, the kettlebell is constantly in motion and with the continual displacement of the handle, the skin on your hand is being annihilated.  Calluses and blisters are formed as its your body's way of protecting itself.  Using gloves only increases the wear of your hands, the kettlebell forces the glove to dig deeper into your palm and the seams cause more damage than the naked kettlebell.

If you are in fact really hardcore and a bit of a sadist at heart - then I would suggest you wear gloves.

Personally I'm no hero, I say no to gloves.

* Hand care is a whole other blog - stay tuned for updates!

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Love for the Turkish Get Up

I cannot describe the emotion I feel for this crisp, clear and humbling exercise.  Just the name gets my blood pumping and the hair on the back of my neck on end.  It's demanding, excruciating in high numbers and makes you feel like every muscle in your body is going to spontaneously combust, that causes butterfly's in my tummy, an accelerated heart beat and hot flushes all at the faint whisper of a 'get up'

That's Love.

For those of you who don't know, a Turkish Get Up is an exercise that requires you to go from a supine position to a standing position, and back down again with a weight held in a fully extended arm.  The 'get up' forces us to react to different situations and adapt to them developing pure functional strength.

The common gym junkie focuses on developing size and pursues aesthetics and aren't concerned about functional strength.  Walk into your local Virgin Active and I guarantee you, the guys walking around with necks the size of tractor tires and arms large enough to force them sideways through the doors while moving very  s l o w l y would struggle if you asked them to drop and give you 20 push ups, let alone attempting the 'get up'. They all about flash and not function.  They can 'picks up heavy fings' but struggle to move their own bodies around with the simplest of movements.  These power houses of the local sweat shops mistake strength for massive muscle when strength is actually the ability to contract our muscles in synergy.

This impressive exercise gives you full body strength and lean muscle.  Executing the 'TGU' improves your thoracic spine extension, boosts core strength and stability, promotes hip mobility in multiple planes and increases shoulder stability in your lower traps and rotator cuffs.

So what do you want?  A body made up of stagnant muscle tissue, that makes you look like you swallowed Jonah Lomu, or a body that can resist a vicious tackle and force your opponent to ricochet off you and run away screaming like Justin Bieber?

Get functional, get Turkish, and get the hell up, it's the choice of champions.

Steve Cotter Turkish Get Up Instructional Video

Monday, 15 August 2011

Bells on Wheels

So a usual Monday begins by loading up my car with about 600kg of kettlebells.  This is a full on functional workout on its own, and am considering recruiting my neighbour's for this hellish task.  As a fitness business owner I think its only right I do my bit for charity and offering my neighbour's a free workout in the morning can only go down well with the local community.  I'm giving back to society.

Transporting kettlbells should be an entire industry on its own.  Not only does this require man power but a vehicle built for desert storm.  My Chevy Spark is however built for ferrying cupcakes and the odd bag of fairy dust.  In the last 3 months I have blown out both my back tires and can no longer shift my car into any gear above 3rd - its just really not necessary.

I could consider installing some 20 inch takkies, a couple roll bars and flourescent blue lights, but I'm afraid the Brakpan look may scare away potential clients.  So I have sourced the perfect upgrade.  A Marauder, pictured above.

This beast has a curb weight of 9,800kg with a cruising speed of 120km/h,  and can carry a payload of 5,100kg of kettlebells.  Top Gear recently showcased it against the ever popular Hummer, and blasted it with seven pounds of plastic explosives. Whilst the Hummer exploded into a million shreds of shrapnel, the Marauder drove off with a flat tire.

I was inspired by this remarkable defeat and as it is being wasted by our military, I thought I would make enquiries into the purchasing of this demonic kettlebell carrier.  At R3 300 000.00 I would only need to give another 9, 428 more classes.  At 4 classes a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, for the next 6 years I could be the proud owner of this machine. I think its a worthy investment.

More importantly the humble kettlebell needs to be transported in exceptional conditions.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Little Bells

I wish I knew then, what I know now, the ominous words spoken by so many elders today. Here I find myself writing those exact words, while pulling that stray grey hair from my head. I imagine how far along of a superhero I would be now, if I had discovered the kettlebell 17 years ago.  Definitely be giving Lex Luther a run for his money.

In today's times, children are being chauffeured around and technology is doing huge damage to their physical capabilities.  Spending the afternoon on the couch watching the Hannah Montana Omnibus or zoned into the latest version of Grand Tourismo is not going to get you breaking records on the sports field or keep you from spatchcocking on the bottom of the jungle gym.

However there are some children, who are grabbing life by the bells.  Children who spend every waking minute out on the lawn smashing cricket balls into the neighbours windows.
I say 'mental high five' to them.  That's the spirit.  Many of my clients have questioned me about the possible effects of the use of kettlebells by their children.

My biggest advice, is to let your children come to the kettlebell.

Kids learn by example and once they see you thrashing that bell around your body like a superhero, they will be enthralled and will quickly become addicted.  Kettlebells harmonize with the body and build a strong foundation for children, for sport, for life, for longevity.  I'm not suggesting whipping them out of bed at 5am, 7 days a week and training them for battle but to gradually introduce kettlebells with careful movements and light weights.

A healthy diet of light weight swings will strengthen their posterior chain at a young age and improve their abilities all round, where as the clean and snatch will develop their explosive abilities.  You want to keep their kettlebell training simple in terms of amounts of exercises, and keep the frequency low to keep them interested as well as the fact that everyday sports activities in schools can take a lot out of a developing child and strength training will tap that further.

Its really important that their kettlebell sessions are supervised. Believe me, those broken neighbours windows will be the least of your worries.  Whilst kettlebells improve their athleticism through the safe use of dynamic movements, they also improve co-ordination, balance, mobility, body control and reaction time.

The children are our future, guide them and they in turn will guide us.

I'm definitely looking forward to having the opportunity of my own.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Downsizing & Upsizing

There is a constant war raging on inside of us.  More often, this battle is being fought by the female of our species.  The media portrays women as these exquisite, statuesque, bronze goddesses who have the genetic makeup of an avatar.  Who are these people?  Have they been manufactured on some farm in Hogwarts?  Are they cultivated with gold dust, diamond shavings and grown in opium soaked compost?

It is these advertorials that send women and some men into a state of complete panic.  How are we to live up to these fabricated illustrations?  Driving women to starve themselves in the hope of losing a few kilograms, or turning to pharmaceuticals for those miracle drugs. WAKE UP!!!!  There is no pill prodigy, if there was, Jamie Oliver wouldn't be harassing the American's about their over sized offspring.

We forget about those people who struggle with weight gain.  I have been a 'tiny' person all my life who has slaved to put on weight, I even attempted Morgan Spurlock's 'Super Size Me' diet - I didn't gain a gram.  What baffles me is how easy it is for people to approach me and say "You're so damn skinny!"  You don't see me poking around and calling you fat.  That is just seen as rude and inconsiderate.  It works both ways.

We are all genetically different and come in wondrous sizes, believe me those cover models don't look the way they do because they woke up that way one day, and they most certainly were not cultivated in some science lab off the coast of France.  The idea is to not strive for social acceptance but to strive for health and longevity.  Do not be blind sighted by what the media is telling you.

There are a million books on weight loss, hundreds of methods and most people unfortunately try and fail with each program, and each one goes up in smoke, and then they turn to the next one.  What they don't realize is yo-yo dieting causes a 'metabolic disaster', when cycles of weight gain and weight loss are repeated over and over, their energy burning process decreases with weight loss as the body adapts to the lower energy intake,  and then when they start eating energy rich foods again they gain more weight than before.

Every time the destructive yo-yo cycle is repeated, the body's ability to burn fat decreases until you reach a point where weight loss theoretically becomes close to impossible.

My advice, eat healthy and train hard - its a winning combination.

To eat is a necessity but to eat intelligently is an art - La Rochefoucauld

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Functional Flux

In Italian we say "sono strata fortonatissima" which in a nut shell means: I've struck a gold mine.  This is exactly what happened the day I took those first steps into Flux Motion's training facility.  I felt like a cat on an island of slow fat mice.

Flux is exactly what their name describes "a flowing or flow, continuous change" these kettlebell junkies never seize to amaze and surprise me with their innovative routines.  We all know what its like walking into a gym, day in and day out - the monotony of the same thing, over and over and over again could put an insomniac down in a whisper.  Not at Flux, these guys are one step ahead, every time.

Flux flirts with dynamite, they are the reason I am up at dawn and grabbing life by the bells. Their workout routines build strength, stamina, endurance and over all HARDCORENESS!  I have never experienced training that activates such natural euphoria whilst building backbone and potency all at the same time.

I loved kettlebells before meeting the Flux team, but since experiencing them through Flux, a passion has evolved inside of me.  Not only have I become more determined and more motivated working with such an inspirational group of people, but I've met a family who truly care about every one of their members as if they where brothers and sisters.

What attracts me about functional training above all is the absence of electricity and the presence of energy.  Walk into any gym in your neighbourhood and you will find hundreds of machines, air-conditioners and generators pumping their black smog into our atmosphere. Walk into Flux and you will find natural lighting, a rainbow of kettlebells and a room full of electrified people.

If you are fortunate enough to have Flux on your door step - get on down and release your inner potential

Monday, 08 August 2011

Pieces of Russia

As an aspiring superhero, I have dabbled in everything from Judo to Thai-bo to Krav Maga, and then fitness enhances such as spinning and aerobics, like a crack addict looking for that ultimate high.  Searching for that catalyst that was going to get me itching for more.

Enter the kettlebell.

About 18 months ago we were formally introduced.  Where has this inelaborate little cannonball been all my life?  The Russians have known kettlebells as long as they have known vodka?

This truly Russian national sport is in its infancy in this country. These remarkable pieces of Russia are one of thee most effective means of strength development in the industry today, and introduces a new era in the evolving of human muscle potential.  They have been turning men into machines since the 17th century with their unique, challenging and intense drills.

A day goes by without a kettlebell in my hand and I begin to get withdrawal symptoms. Their high repetition ballistic exercises combine strength, cardio and flexibility into training and leave you sweating like a pig in a bacon factory. The fitness industry lost the definition of 'fit' with the introduction of their scientifically engineered machines, training lost its functionality, people lost their drive and passion and in turn drove them to their TV remotes. Working with kettlebells require co-ordination and kinesthetic awareness, therefor not just increasing your physical abilities but improving your mental focus too.  Welcome to Utopia.

At first glance of a kettlebell in all its modesty, it seems better suited for weighing down a doctoral thesis than being a super efficient tool for physical metamorphosis. Kettlebells amplify your power output, train your body to contend with an ever changing center of gravity, bridges the gap between strength and cardio and improves your overall athleticism, whilst building muscle and torching fat at 20 calories a minute. They are used by the military, international SWAT teams, the red army and special forces, and you can bet your bottom dollar these guys have done their research.

You will find yourself in the best shape of your life and begging for more.  Some of the most simple movements, but with their high repetition drills make you want to throw up a kidney, and leave you respecting such a humble piece of equipment and burning in muscles you never knew existed for days afterwards.

Dear Kettlebell, you make me want to be a better women.

Saturday, 06 August 2011

The Roof of Africa

So my brother is tackling Mt Kilimanjaro at the end of September.  Sorry, what? Repeat. Wow, I am overwhelmed with inspiration.  This is a callous and serious endeavour that requires smoking mental ability and a rock like level of physical fitness and stamina. I say - Damn boy, you go for it - you own that mountain!

Whats ironic about Africa's highest mountain is that it is known to the local Chagga people as "little hill of white".  This little hill is 5 895m above sea level, this is no Sunday stroll on the beach front. Enthusiastic climbers need to undergo medical tests just to be given the go ahead.

Personally my biggest fear are the resident man-eating spirits, this may be just local folklore, but hell something must have sparked this thought!  Its all rather confusing as the locals see the mountain as 'the giver of life'.  Now is it giving or is it taking??  I suppose you going to have to climb it to find out.

This majestic piece of Africa is crowned by an eternal snow cap which indicates that when preparing for this challenge you need to flirt with the elements.  Its the type of fitness and not the degree of fitness that needs to be taken into consideration.  So when heading for the pinnacle of Kibo, I would advise your training to be simulated, get out and get running on those cold and rainy days, prepare your body for extreme conditions.  Be fare to your body, surprising it with sudden freezing conditions that it has never exerted itself in is only going to leave you balls to the walls.

Running is going to help you prepare your lungs and improve your VO2 but does not prepare your muscles for this strenuous hike.  Develop your muscles for endurance, do some progressive resistance training.  At the end of the day the fitter you are the more enjoyable the hike will be.  How can I continue without mentioning a kettlebell? Overhead kettlebell exercises force the muscles most responsible for breathing to play an even larger role in cardio-vascular fitness.

He is determined, he is focused and he will demolish this mountain!

Best of luck to you big brother - salute!

Friday, 05 August 2011

Welcome to the block party

Its that day of the week that has people far and wide shouting from their car windows, office cubicles, high rise balconies and street corners. "Its the weeeeeeekend babbbbbby" and everyone knows exactly what this means.

Come 5pm and there are bottle tops cracking open country wide, designer shots being thrown back and toilet cleaners cursing the ground that we walk on.  The sound of shrill laughter, clinking glasses, and spirited music pumping while the young and feisty end the week off by cutting serious rugs on the dance floor.

And hell, we deserve it, don't we? We bust our chops day and night at the grindstone, early mornings, late meetings, deadlines, commissions, obligations, productions and elbow grease! We have earned that 13th shot of tequila!  If you agree with that - you are well on your way to becoming a statistic.

I say "Practice with a purpose and play with passion" we spend a lot of time putting our hearts into other peoples businesses, and for the fitness junkie - we spend a lot of time perfecting our bodies, so come Friday don't throw it down the toilet along with 10 shots of sambuca and 6 glasses of wine.

A few glasses of wine, a couple beers, are good for you.  In fact a glass of wine a day is excellent for you.  Moderation is what it comes down to. Enjoy yourself, kick back, have a drink, release yourself, be social but be wise.

Don't purposefully drink yourself into a stupor, don't be influenced by those around you. Binge drinking burdens your body, alcohol is a depressant.  With large amounts over short periods, your body just cant process it quickly enough and can result in a long list of issues. Don't end your week by waking up in your own vomit.

Keep it fresh, don't become a statistic and love your body - it's the only place you have to live.

Thursday, 04 August 2011

The Unavoidable Guido

Across the world, in parks, gyms and any place 'to be seen', you will find the typical and unavoidable Guido.

This rough and nondescript stereotype, can be found either in the local USN section of a health store, non discreetly flexing his juice filled biceps, whilst on a break from his panel beating job. Or by night, cruising the main streets looking to pick a fight or attempting to out stage the bouncer at a local club. Who spends more time picking out the appropriate gel for his overdone hair-do then he does with his girlfriend.

These typical adolescent young males of our generation are what gives our industry a greasy name.  These guys are about appearance and not ability, flash and not function.

We are constantly being told by the media that we need to sign up at the local gym, that we need to purchase their overpriced verimark equipment and monster protein shakes in order to flex those pecs like the rest.  We are being sold lifelong contracts to facilities with glorified and expensive scientifically engineered machines.
If we are not wearing those R3000 trainers and designer sports bra's we are not going to get the results we strive for.

What complete an utter nonsense. The money driven world has given you this vision. You don't need all this to reach the pinnacles of strength and fitness - all you need is your body, some clothes you can sweat it, your two bare feet, the right knowledge and a bucket load of determination.

Machines, equipment, fancy tools and designer spandex give you all 'show', and no 'go'. Don't even get me started on steroids, while they quickly developing your muscles at an incredibly fast rate, your joints are being left to tether. You taking 10 steps backwards and no steps forward.

Bodyweight training, my methods of training progressively strengthen your joints for life. At the end of the day, why do you exercise? Why do you seek fitness?.... For longevity, strength, endurance, power, athleticism... bodyweight training will give you that tenfold, real nervous power, stamina, inner strength and conditioning for true ability not just for show.

I weigh a whole of 49kg and can probably drop and give you 50 without breaking a sweat, or hold a plank for 5 minutes without as much as a shiver, why you may ask? Because I train for function, for ability.

Next time you wondering around the local gym, take a look around, tell me what you see.  All muscle, pumping away at the pec dec, pressing iron on the leg press - when in your life have you been in a situation that has called for you to press 250kg when lying in submission with your legs in the air?  If this was so necessary - why would George Hurst have invented 'the jaws of life' when one could surely just pull themselves out of a wrangled mess?

Its about understanding the science of movement, compound, isolated and ballistic exercises, the benefits, and the development of functionality.

Learn to train your body for life.

* Inspired by Convict Conditioning

To plank, or not to plank, that is the question.

The craze of 'planking' has taken the world by storm.  Even if you live in a cave, this phenomenon has hit you hard in the face.  The logic of this movement is however left for those who really have nothing better to do with their time, then to place themselves face down on arbitrary props.  The only benefit I seize to find here is that it makes people smile and is good for the soul.

Performing an actual 'plank', the isometric exercise for raw core strength is done by placing your elbows below your shoulders, stretching out and balancing on your toes.  Simple right? I find this exercise to be more mentally challenging then physical on so many levels.

As much as it requires a strong core, this challenging exercise strengthens your arms, your abdominal muscles and strengthens your lower back, its imperative that you keep your pelvis lifted and stabilize your lower back by engaging your core muscles.

This mind boggling, simple yet 'tough as nails' exercise is brutal.  Lets start talking numbers, once you have put in a full minute of this exercise and felt those flames being thrown from your abdomen you will begin to understand the extent of the plank.  You will begin to understand why I say this is mentally challenging.

Physically, depending on your level of strength and fitness after a few minutes you will literally be shaking like a leaf, sweat will drip out of your every pore like the Ganges in monsoon season, and this is when your mental abilities will kick in.  Gold Coast's Paul Drinan at 68 years old did not break the world record of 33 minutes on physical ability alone. You need the mental power of a yogi to be smashing back those minutes.

And why you may ask would you put yourself through the physical stress of such a simple movement?  The plank blasts energy transfer between your lower and upper body, strengthens your inner core muscles that support your joints, improves flexibility in your posterior muscles, improves your posture and with the muscle development you are torching fat like a blowtorch on a petrol tank..

Like a silent sniper sitting in the distance, focus, timing and precision.

Wednesday, 03 August 2011


We have all been in that very cold and uncomfortable place.  That first day on the job where you stand around hoping nobody is going to notice you, staring into a corner without the faintest idea of what your purpose is. Attempting to blend in with the dividers in your office or making trivial conversation with the tea lady, despite being completely uninterested in where the coffee cups are kept. Repeating to yourself in a creepy monotone "it will all be over soon" that has the office personnel looking over their shoulders at you and whispering amongst each other.

When you walk into a room you have a decision to make, are you going to 'OWN' the space, or 'RENT' the space.  This choice will define you, where you going, and where you will end up.  I think I chose the career that I did purely because I have a history of running head first into anything and everything.  Yes you bump your head a few times, it knocks you down, sometimes harder then others - but hell, you dust yourself off and get up again, you never duck and run, you NEVER rent.

Being a fitness junkie, an adrenalin whore and overall thrill seeker has put me right at the entrance door of this 'space', I've discovered my calling now do I stand around and wait inside, in the safe zone or dive through headfirst?  So I've spent a few years trotting the globe, studying, throwing myself out of high flying objects, surfing lonely open waters, learning and living.  Some might say at 27 years old 'You aught to know where you going by now, young lady'... but no, I'm still unsure, undecided and unawares.
What I do know is that I'm passionate, obsessive and committed to fitness.  Iv entered this bright new world of possibilities, this world that motivates me to be up at dawn and grabbing life by the bells! Starting something new is never easy, making a name for yourself, facing new challenges, accomplishing goals, building  a repertoire.  Being a fresh fish in an already over crowded tank would send anyone looking for the escape bait but I'm done deliberating, Iv started a small business and I'm on the road to discovery one step at a time.

Your neighbour, your friend, your teacher, your mother - they have all been there, they where all at 'Day One' once - don't be afraid - dive in head first.

I'm through the door, Iv taken the step.  I'm unscared.